The New U.S. Peace Initiative Isn’t a Solution to the Israel-Palestinian Conflict—Nor Should It Be

February 12, 2020 | Efraim Inbar
About the author: Efraim Inbar is president of the Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security (JISS).

Interviewed by Neri Zilber, Efraim Inbar compares the current American proposal for creating a Palestinian state with the plan for territorial compromise set forth by the Labor politician Yigal Allon in the aftermath of the Six-Day War. Like that plan, the new plan “gives Israel control over the Jordan Valley, keeping Jerusalem under Israeli sovereignty,” while proposing withdrawal from other West Bank territory. To Zilber’s question of whether Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would be willing to go along with it, Inbar responds:

Netanyahu was and is willing to make territorial compromises with the Palestinians if they behave. Netanyahu has in fact [always] been in the “left wing” of his Likud party, and I’ve heard he’s not averse to giving up additional land for a good deal. But of course, a good deal in his eyes is different from a good deal in Palestinian eyes. And the proof of this is that he accepted the Trump plan as well as indirectly the idea of a Palestinian state, which is included in the Trump plan. And his right wing . . . is up in arms.

Even during the Obama administration, Netanyahu was willing to say yes to [then-Secretary of State] John Kerry in the spring of 2014, including giving up sovereignty in exchange for [Israeli] military control over the Jordan Valley.

Most importantly, argues Inbar, the new peace plan is “definitely not” a solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict:

It’s very naïve if you think you can stop this conflict. It’s over 100 years old, but compared with other protracted, territorial-religious conflicts it’s still young. . . . I do not believe we should be speaking in terms of solutions but rather in terms of managing and limiting the conflict for both sides. The conflict cannot be solved. . . . In the meantime, we should try to manage it within bearable parameters.

[Israel] can never give up security control over the West Bank. The Trump plan acknowledges that. Israel will continue doing what it does now. The status quo is bearable, and I do not see the Palestinians being able to fulfill the minimum criterion of a state, which is the monopoly over the use of force. This is not only a Palestinian problem, but a general Arab political and cultural problem in the region.

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